Mt. Washington, New Hampshire to be exact.
Co-Driver Jennifer Daly and myself arrived at the mountain Wednesday and completed registration, followed by a quick drive up the mountain, as she'd not seen it before. Weather was beautiful and the scenery stunning. We then took T-4.5 through tech and she passed without issue or concern.
The discipline of hillclimbing is a bit different than rally. It's a specialized discipline and most of the competitors have arrived with specialized vehicles. For us rallyists, we have the luxury of having a co-driver on board, but the potential disadvantage of being a bit outside our comfort zone on the mountain.
The psychological challenge is likely worse than the reality of racing up the mountain. After making several passes during recce today(Thursday), we've begun to do the specialized work that is writing our own pacenotes for the road. This increases our focus on the task and really serves to bring our heads back in the car, instead of outside thinking of exposures and such...
Jennifer likened one of the ditches(really just a section, but the comparison applies to the entire mountain) as a gaping mouth filled with rocky teeth. I don't want to play dentist this weekend.
Weather will likely be the deciding factor this weekend. While nice yesterday, it's been raining all day, resulting in them closing half the mountain to traffic this afternoon. It was very difficult to recce the top half of the road due to poor visibility and our notes will likely need to be fine-tuned during practice runs tomorrow and Saturday.
While very familiar with driving in all sorts of weather on all sorts of surfaces, the Mountain presents all sorts of challenges. There is a change from tarmac to gravel back to tarmac. Tire choice is a compromise. If it rains(which seems likely), slicks won't be a great choice.
Rookie driver meeting tonight, dinner and then arrival of part of our crew. Tomorrow is practice, either lower or upper half of the mountain, depending on weather. Practice times will determine start order, so there may be some strategy. Do we go quickly and risk the car? Do we dial it back a bit and make sure the notes are ok, risking being seeded lower in the start for Sunday? I don't really have a good answer.
While we focus on our task here, we also have been firming up plans for next weekend's Rallye Baie des Chaleurs in New Richmond Quebec. Very excited to get back to this incredible event! Two weeks later, we'll be at the New England Forest Rally, headquartered at Sunday River.
I think I'll need a vacation afterward.
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